From March 3-19, some of today’s rising stars in jazz music will perform Songs We Love, a journey through the first 50 years of jazz songwriting, at performing arts centers and concert halls in the United States Under the musical direction of Riley Mulherkar, 3 guest singers will join a group of rising New York stars.
Combining their distinct talents, the group will sing across four decades of music, beginning with the early blues and jazz of the 1920s and ending in the early 1950s. Iconic vocalists to explore include Ma Rainey, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland.
The Songs We Love Tour kicks off in March with nine shows in the North, East Coast and South. Jazz at Lincoln Center Presents – SONGS WE LOVE: 50 Years of Jazz Song features Riley Mulherkar as musical director, with Vuyo Sotashe, Brianna Thomas and Shenel Johns on vocals with Julian Lee, Mariel Bildsten, Mathis Picard, Barry Stephenson and TJ Reddick .
Songs We Love premiered as the 2016 season opener at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. For more than three decades, Jazz at Lincoln Center has been one of the world’s leading advocates of jazz, culture and arts education. Under the direction of Wynton Marsalis, and featuring the world-renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and guest artists spanning genres and generations, JALC produces thousands of performance, education and broadcast events each season in its home in New York, and around the world for people of all ages.
The JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER PRESENTS touring initiative provides a new opportunity to present excellent jazz programming, featuring up-and-coming musicians who have been identified as rising stars by JALC. The initiative also extends JALC’s mission “to entertain, enrich and expand a global community for jazz through performance, education and advocacy.”
Riley Mulherkar has been recognized as a “smart young trumpeter” by The New York Times and hailed by The Wall Street Journal as a “youngster to watch”. Riley is a founding member of The Westerlies, a new musical horn quartet that creates the rarest of hybrids: music that is both “folk and songwriting, beautiful and intellectually rigorous” (NPR Music).
Riley works with a number of leading artists of our time including Wynton Marsalis, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Alan Cumming and Anna Deavere Smith. Born and raised in Seattle, Riley moved to New York to study at the Juilliard School and received the Knowles Prize for Jazz and the Peter Mennin Award for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music. In 2011, Riley was named a “Rising Jazz Artist” by Wynton Marsalis in JET magazine, and in 2014 he was the first recipient of the Laurie Frink Career Fellowship at the Festival of New Trumpet Music.
Riley is actively engaged in educational outreach, founding the music program at START Osceola, directing the Summer Advanced Institute at Seattle JazzEd, and serving as an ambassador for Jazz at Lincoln Center’s “Jazz for Young People” program. in New York and St. Louis. All of this experience and accolades position him as the perfect musical director for Songs We Love.
Singers on tour include rising young South African jazz singer Vuyo Sotashe, who moved to New York in 2013 after receiving the prestigious Fulbright scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in music at William Paterson University. Since then, he has won numerous awards, including first prize in the first-ever Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival vocal competition in 2014, and most recently won the People’s Choice Award and placed second in the Shure Montreux Jazz Competition. Voice. in 2015.
Brianna Thomas is another singer making waves and was described by the NY Times as saying, “Ms. Thomas has a strong voice and wide range, descended from Sarah Vaughan and Betty Carter and channeled through Dianne Reeves, with clarity and confidence. and a little dirt.” Shenel Johns, who has become one of the shining stars of her generation, complements the singers with a voice that embodies grace and passion and a personal style that swings effortlessly from jazz to R&B to gospel music.
Accompanying Riley Mulherkar and the three guest singers, Julian Lee quickly established himself as one of the most sought after and versatile saxophonists of his generation. He is the recipient of the 2017 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award from Jazz At Lincoln Center and has performed internationally and nationally with a wide range of critically acclaimed artists including Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride and Jon Batiste. Also joins Mariel Bildsten on trombone, known as the principal trombonist of Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra and tours internationally with rock band Brass Against.
She has performed at Carnegie Hall, Radio City, O2 Arena, Birdland Jazz Club, Apollo Theatre, Chicago Jazz Festival, Perth International Arts Festival, Caramoor Jazz Festival, Smalls Jazz Club and the Smoke Jazz Club, among others. On the piano is Franco-Malagasy pianist Mathis Picard who recently released his new album Live At The Museum, showcasing his diverse talent. Considered one of the most sought-after bassists on the scene today, Barry Stephenson is also joining the tour with his raw talent. On drums is TJ Reddick, already a world traveler, who has performed in many countries including France, Brazil and Belize. TJ is an energetic musician ready to light up any stage. Together, these musicians bring a youthful, vibrant vibe to every performance you won’t want to miss.
Some markets will also include “Let Freedom Swing” educational shows. Let Freedom Swing presents outstanding jazz artists and performances to community audiences. Inspired by conversations between former United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and jazz musician Wynton Marsalis, Let Freedom Swing includes three jazz concerts: Jazz and Democracy, Jazz and the Great Migration, and Jazz and Civil Rights.
March 03 @ Arts Commons – Jack Singer Concert Hall – Calgary, AB
March 06 @ Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts – Scottsdale, AZ *
March 09 @ Lyric Theater – Stuart, FL
March 10 @ Tribby Arts Center – Fort Myers, Florida
March 11 @ Christensen Performance Hall – Sanibel, FL
March 12 @ South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center – Miami, FL
March 15 @ Newberry Opera House – Newberry, SC
March 18 @ SUNY Potsdam – Helen M. Hosmer Concert Hall – Potsdam, NY
March 19 @ The Paramount Theater – Rutland, VT
*Let Freedom Swing (educational show on March 7)